Streaming and complex event processing (CEP)

Discussion of complex event processing (CEP), aka event processing or stream processing – i.e., of technology that executes queries before data is ever stored on disk. Related subjects include:

Progress Apama

May 21, 2009

Notes on CEP application development

While performance may not be all that great a source of CEP competitive differentiation, event processing vendors find plenty of other bases for technological competition, including application development, analytics, packaged applications, and data integration. In particular:

So far as I can tell, the areas of applications and analytics are fairly uncontroversial. Different CEP vendors have implemented different kinds of things, no doubt focusing on those they thought they would find easiest to build and then sell. But these seem to be choices in business execution, not in core technical philosophy.

In CEP application development, however, real philosophical differences do seem to arise. There are at least three different CEP application development paradigms: Read more

May 21, 2009

Notes on CEP performance

I’ve been talking to CEP vendors on and off for a few years. So what I hear about performance is fairly patchwork. On the other hand, maybe 1-2+ year-old figures of per-core performance are still meaningful today. After all, Moore’s Law is being reflected more in core count than per-core performance, and it seems CEP vendors’ development efforts haven’t necessarily been concentrated on raw engine speed.

So anyway, what do you guys have to add to the following observations?

May 18, 2009

Followup on IBM System S/InfoSphere Streams

After posting about IBM’s System S/InfoSphere Streams CEP offering, I sent three followup questions over to Jeff Jones.  It seems simplest to just post the Q&A verbatim.

1.  Just how many processors or cores does it take to get those 5 million messages/sec through? A little birdie says 4,000 cores. Read more

May 13, 2009

Microsoft announced CEP this week too

Microsoft still hasn’t worked out all the kinks regarding when and how intensely to brief me. So most of what I know about their announcement earlier this week of a CEP/stream processing product* is what I garnered on a consulting call in March. That said, I sent Microsoft my notes from that call, they responded quickly and clearly to my question as to what remained under NDA, and for good measure they included a couple of clarifying comments that I’ll copy below.

*”in the SQL Server 2008 R2 timeframe,” about which Microsoft wrote “the first Community Technology Preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2008 R2 will be available for download in the second half of 2009 and the release is on track to ship in the first half of calendar year 2010. “

Perhaps it is more than coincidence that IBM rushed out its own announcement of an immature CEP technology — due to be more mature in a 2010 release — immediately after Microsoft revealed its plans. Anyhow, taken together, these announcements support my theory that the small independent CEP/stream processing vendors are more or less ceding broad parts of the potential stream processing market.

The main use cases Microsoft talks about for CEP are in the area of sensor data. Read more

May 13, 2009

IBM System S Streams, aka InfoSphere Streams, aka stream processing, aka “please don’t call it CEP”

IBM has hastily announced System S Streams, a product that was supposed to be called InfoSphere Streams and introduced only in 2010. Apparently, the rush is because senior management wanted to talk about it later this week, and perhaps also because it was implicitly baked into some of IBM’s advertising already. Scrambling ensued. Even so, Jeff Jones and team got to me fast, and briefed me — fairly non-technically, unfortunately, but otherwise how I like it, namely on a harmless embargo and without any NDAs. That’s more than can be said for my clients at Microsoft, who also introduced CEP this week, but I digress …

*Indeed, as I draft this post-Celtics-game, the embargo is already expired.

Marketing aside, IBM System S/InfoSphere Streams is indeed a CEP/stream processing engine + language (with an Eclipse-based development environment). Apparently, IBM’s thinks InfoSphere Streams (if that’s what it winds up being renamed to) is or will be differentiated from other CEP packages in:

Read more

March 25, 2009

Aleri update

My skeptical remarks on the Aleri/Coral8 merger generated some pushback. Today I actually got around to talking with John Morell, who was marketing chief at Coral8 and has remained with the combined company. First, some quick metrics:

John is sticking by the company line that there will be an integrated Aleri/Coral8 engine in around 12 months, with all the performance optimization of Aleri and flexibility of Coral8, that compiles and runs code from any of the development tools either Aleri or Coral8 now has. While this is a lot faster than, say, the Informix/Illustra or Oracle/IRI Express integrations, John insists that integrating CEP engines is a lot easier. We’ll see.

I focused most of the conversation on Aleri’s forthcoming efforts outside the financial services market. John sees these as being focused around Coral8’s old “Continuous (Business) Intelligence” message, enhanced by Aleri’s Live OLAP. Aleri Live OLAP is an in-memory OLAP engine, real-time/event-driven, fed by CEP. Queries can be submitted via ODBO/MDX today. XMLA is coming. John reports that quite a few Coral8 customers are interested in Live OLAP, and positions the capability as one Coral8 would have had to develop had the company remained independent. Read more

March 20, 2009

The CEP guys are getting a bit chippy

In a thread responding to my post Independent CEP vendors continue to flounder, Paul Vincent wrote:

I’m not aware of anyone claiming “CEP is an alternative to a relational RDBMS” – except maybe as an application platform for processing events (where RDBMS could be seen as a square hole for an event round peg).


Actually, it’s hard to think of an application for off-the-shelf CEP where the alternative technologies aren’t:

  1. Custom CEP
  2. Just write it to an RDBMS and query it

What’s more, except where super-low latency is needed, #2 is apt to be the primary alternative. Read more

March 9, 2009

Independent CEP vendors continue to flounder

Independent CEP (Complex/Event Processing) vendors continue to flounder, at least outside the financial services and national intelligence markets.

CEP’s penetration outside of its classical markets isn’t quite zero. Customers include several transportation companies (various vendors), Sallie Mae (Coral8), a game vendor or two (StreamBase, if I recall correctly), Verizon (Aleri, I think), and more. But I just wrote that list from memory — based mainly on not-so-recent deals — and a quick tour of the vendors’ web sites hasn’t turned up much I overlooked. (Truviso does have a recent deal with Technorati, but that’s not exactly a blue chip customer these days.)

So far as I can tell, this is a new version of a repeated story. Read more

January 28, 2009

More Oracle notes

When I went to Oracle in October, the main purpose of the visit was to discuss Exadata. And so my initial post based on the visit was focused accordingly. But there were a number of other interesting points I’ve never gotten around to writing up. Let me now remedy that, at least in part. Read more

October 20, 2008

Coral8 proposes CEP as a BI data platform

It used to be that Coral8 and StreamBase were the two complex event/stream processing (CEP) vendors most committed to branching out beyond the super-low-latency algorithmic trading marketing. But StreamBase seems to have pulled in its horns after a management change, focusing much more on the financial market (and perhaps the defense/intelligence market as well). Aleri, Truviso, and Progress Apama, while each showing signs of branching out, don’t seem to have gone as far as Coral8 yet. And so, though it’s a small company with not all that many dozens of customers, my client Coral8 seems to be the one to look at when seeing whether CEP really is relevant to a broad range of mainstream – no pun intended – applications.

Coral8 today unveiled a new product release – the not-so-concisely named “Coral8 Engine and Portal Release 5.5” – and a new buzzphrase — “Continuous Intelligence.” The interesting part boils down to this:

Coral8 is proposing CEP — excuse me, “Continuous Intelligence” — as a data-store-equivalent for business intelligence.

This includes both operational BI (the current sweet spot) and dashboards (the part with cool, real-time-visualization demos). Read more

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